Something that stressed me out before leaving for London was just simply feeling totally unprepared. I decided to study abroad really close to the deadline for applications, so the time between my decision and leaving was very short. Because of this, I had little to no expectations or plans made other than where my host city was, which was a good thing and a bad thing. I was able to put less pressure on myself as there weren’t any expectations to live up to, but I also do believe I could have accomplished more or maximized my time more given that I had more time to prepare and plan before leaving. I have absolutely no regrets when it comes to abroad, but if I was granted the privilege of going back in time and being able to guide myself through the pre-departure period of studying abroad, this is what I would do differently/tell myself.
- Traveling is HUGE while studying abroad, but be sure to create boundaries.
I knew that traveling to other countries and cities was a part of studying abroad, but I underestimated just how big traveling was. I went in to going abroad with the goal of going to the main three cities I wished to visit without really thinking about other places I would like to go. Unfortunately, I was only able to go to ⅔ of the cities at the top of my list and I feel as though I could’ve done more traveling with some more planning. I felt myself comparing my travel plans to my others friends’ travel plans which is an absolute no-go thing to do. I had to remind myself that any travel at all should be something I’m grateful for, and I beat out my expectations by traveling to places like Vienna or Prague that I had no intention or plan to do! I saw other people traveling every single weekend and I knew that even though that seemed amazing, I mentally and physically could not do the same exact things as everyone else. Comparison has no place in studying abroad!
- Don’t expect to have the same routine at home that you do while abroad
Something that is a pivotal part of my daily routine at home is working out and waking up early. I absolutely am a morning person and that time of my day is truly the most important and enjoyable aspect of my day. When I first came abroad, I was trying so desperately to fit my old routine into my life here but the truth is that just wasn’t possible. I was having later nights with my friends, being more active within my normal life by walking everywhere, and was under more stress and had more things to do than at home. There were also many aspects completely out of my control that was involved in this as well. Normally, I would be waking up early and go to grab a coffee somewhere. The reality of my new routine hit me when one day at the beginning of being abroad I woke up early to go grab a coffee and realized I still had 2 and a half hours until the coffee shop even opened because things open much later here! Because of this, I had to slowly remove the pressures I had on myself to maintain my daily life back home while abroad.
- Pack smart, but not too light
I know that one of the tips you see so much before going abroad that it gets engraved in your brain is not to pack too much and to pack extremely light. While I agree, you definitely should pack light, don’t pack too light as you will definitely become bored with the clothes you brought at home after a short time. Shopping is great while abroad, but it is definitely not the most budget-friendly, and buying a whole new wardrobe might not be in the budget for everyone. Be sure to pack smart, bring extras of the things you wear every day, and bring less of the things that are outside your comfort zone. Your comfort zone and style will adapt as you’re abroad, so don’t worry too much about trying to get ahead of that curve. You’ll only take up extra space for things you could buy while you’re abroad!
- Expect to be uncomfortable, but also expect to eventually get comfortable
Something I never expected would happen to me while studying abroad is that I would actually become extremely comfortable here in London. Of course, it did not start that way at all. I would be so intimidated by the locals, the customs, the overwhelming size of the city and how much there was to do, the public transport, etc. But as time went on, I feel so comfortable in this city that I could genuinely see myself living here by myself. I have a full routine and am so familiar with the things that used to scare me that I don’t even blink an eye anymore. I felt a lot of fear, especially in the beginning, that I would never get over the feeling of being an outsider or that I would never get adjusted. I can say definitely that that initial discomfort will fade, you just have to give it time.
- Everything will be fine!
I felt so much stress before I went abroad and from what I’ve gathered, that’s a pretty universal experience. My worries and fears of succeeding or having a good time have been absolutely blown out of the picture. I expected to have a good time, but I never expected just how amazing this experience has been and just how much this time abroad has changed me as a person. If you’re about to study abroad or are thinking about it and scared, I can promise you that if you give it the chance, you will have an absolutely amazing time and be so grateful you took the chance.
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Hi! My name is Emma Crawford. I'm a sophomore comm studies major from Pennsylvania and Ill be studying abroad in London. I am a lifelong Swiftie, lover of coffee, and always down to try something new. I am so excited to explore London and other countries in Europe!